November Garden Planner

by Scott Duncan

By November most gardeners are pretty much done for the year. Now it is time to put clean up the garden and put tools away for the winter.

  • Did you know that in Maryland using fertilizer between November 15th and March1st is now prohibited? The Fertilizer Use Act of 2011 was enacted to help protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from nutrient runoff. So apply one last layer of your compost and wait until spring to try and feed your soil.

  • Before the ground freezes hard dig up and store tender bulbs such as elephant ears, begonias, and caladium.

  • Mulch beds with spring bulbs and tender shrubs like rosemary which can also benefit from being wrapped in burlap before frost can damage them.

  • After the first hard freeze cut spent late finishing annuals and perennials. Discard any that are diseased and add the rest to the compost pile.

  • Leaves can be helpful mulch for lawns. Rather than raking them up use your mower to shred them and leave them for the winter. Keep the layer of leaves to about an inch and put the rest of the leaves on flower beds.

  • After the last mowing of the season, clean up your mower and wipe it down with DW-40 to prevent rust during winter storage.

  • Compost all winter long to have nice soil in the Spring. Buy a commercial bin or dedicate an out of the way spot in your yard. You can also dig a trench for winter composting and then use the trench to plant in the Spring with a favorite vegetable crop.

  • During cold weather the composting process slows down so turn your compost pile every two weeks once temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees.

  • Dormant trees and shrubs can be pruned this month. While doing so check for and cut out infestations of bagworms and tent caterpillars. Avoid trimming those trees and shrubs that bloom in spring because this will inhibit production of buds.

  • If you have a koi pond clean up leaves and other debris and put a rat wire cover on to protect the fish. They will not need to be fed during cold weather.

For those of you who are really ambitious gardeners you may still be nursing along some cold water crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, greens, or onions. You may want to think about starting to protect them at night from frost with some hay, newspapers, or black plastic sheeting. Our average first autumn freeze usually happens between November 1st and November 15th. Visit this link to FDA hardiness maps for our region.